June 1, 2017
[truecrime] Isdal Woman: The mystery death haunting Norway for 46 years … a fascinating unsolved true crime story … ‘On the morning of 29 November 1970, a man and his two young daughters see a body in Isdalen Valley. The corpse is sprawled across some rocks – with its arms extended in a “boxer” position, typical of bodies that have been burnt. Isdalen is known to some locals as “Death Valley” – it was a site where people committed suicide in medieval times, and, in the 1960s, some hikers had fallen to their deaths while trekking in the fog. But the woman does not appear to be a normal hiker…’
June 2, 2017
[books] Drif Field, Raymond Carver, and the infamous Guide… a look at Drif’s Guide to All the Second-hand and Antiquarian Bookshops in Britain … ‘It all has the tone of a man about to bow out, and leave the blinkered inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah to their well-deserved ruin. And his prophesy has largely come to pass. The ranks of second-hand booksellers have thinned drastically. There are still some left in Sussex, but like antiques in general it’s a dying trade in which a very few discreet high-class niche dealers (without the overheads of a shop) might still do well, but most bookshop-owners won’t. The times are against them.’ [thanks Phil]
June 5, 2017
[comics] Comics Recommended by Alan Moore … great page of recommendations (sadly the orginal is a 404 but archived) … On Marshal Law: ‘If Watchmen did in any way kill off the superhero – which is a dubious proposition – then Marshal Law has taken it further with this wonderful act of necrophilia, where it has degraded the corpse in a really amusing way.’
June 6, 2017
[tech] The Lost Joys of the Screen Saver … a thoughtful, nostalgic look at Screen Savers … ‘To me, screen savers have always afforded some tenuous connection to the afterlife. The first one I can remember, on my family’s household desktop, featured a crimson psychedelia that overtook the screen’s blackness, a kaleidoscope of paisleys and helixes forever in a state of irresolution. Late at night, I’d prepare an unhealthy snack and sit patiently in front of the monitor to watch it, a child beseeching death. How fitting would it be, I thought then, if we all ended up trapped behind a pane of glass roiling with pixels? My instinct was only reaffirmed by a childhood friend’s widowed grandmother, who held onto the conviction that her husband was trying to communicate to her through her Dell’s wispy screen saver. She spent her evenings careful not to disturb the cursor, basking in her lover’s strange séance.’ [via jwz]
June 7, 2017
[truecrime] A Loaded Gun … a look at the violent past of a non-standard mass shooter … ‘For fifty minutes, Bishop said nothing. Then, just as the meeting was concluding, she stood up, pulled out the gun, a 9-mm. Ruger semiautomatic, and shot Podila in the head. The blast was deafening. She fired again, hitting a department assistant, Stephanie Monticciolo. Next, Bishop turned and shot Adriel Johnson, a cell biologist. People screamed and ducked for cover, but Bishop was blocking the only door. Moriarity did not fully register what was happening until she saw Bishop—her jaw set, her brow furrowed—train the gun on a fourth colleague, Maria Ragland Davis, and shoot her. Moriarity dived under the table. With gunshots ringing out above her, she flung her arms around Bishop’s legs, looked up, and screamed, “Amy, don’t do this! Think of my daughter! Think of my grandson!” Bishop looked down—then turned the gun on Moriarity. Click. Moriarity, in terror, stared at the gun. Click.’
June 9, 2017
[comics] The Alan Moore 2016 Christmas Interviews – Part 1 … from Pádraig Ó Méalóid and the TRVSAMSG on Facebook‘Advertising itself is the most blatant form of bad magic being practiced in the world today. Its practice progresses in leaps and bounds, even without the personally-targeted advertising which the internet allows, while our human neurology and our capacity to deal with these techniques progresses at a much more leisurely crawl. I was taking recently with the highly respected magician Lionel Snell, who was pointing out that rational statements, if anything, tend to lose power with repetition, simply because we become used to them and they seem commonplace or boring. Magical incantations, however, many of them in languages that the practitioner does not even understand, will actually gain power from repetition. Clearly, under the rubric of magical incantation we should include the slogan, be it for commercial advertising or for political purposes. The slogans ‘Brexit Means Brexit’ or ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’, while they mean precisely nothing, if repeated enough times with steadily increasing volume will come to seem like profound eternal truths.’
June 12, 2017
[conspiracy] The Other Shooter: The Saddest and Most Expensive 26 Seconds of Amateur Film Ever Made … another look at the Zapruder Film

All the newest technologies have been thrown at Zapruder. The limitation, ultimately, isn’t the resolution of the 8mm film stock, but the quality of the lens. A rash of theories about JFK continue to revolve around the film, which, despite being such a landmark testament to what happened, hasn’t brought questions about the assassination to rest. “It’s one of the great ironies that, despite the existence of the film, we don’t know what happened,” says Begley.

“We’re still in the dark. What we finally have are patches and shadows. It’s still a mystery. There’s still an element of dream-terror. And one of the terrible dreams is that our most photogenic president is murdered on film. But there’s something inevitable about the Zapruder film. It had to happen this way. The moment belongs to the twentieth century, which means it had to be captured on film.”

June 13, 2017
[brexit] Britain: The End of a Fantasy … some strong analysis on Brexit and the current mess the United Kingdon is in …

Theresa May is a classic phony Brexiter. She didn’t support it in last year’s referendum and there is no reason to think that, in private, she has ever changed her mind. But she saw that the path to power led toward the cliff edge, from which Britain will take its leap into an unknown future entirely outside the European Union. Her strategy was one of appeasement—of the nationalist zealots in her own party, of the voters who had backed the hard-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), and of the hysterically jingoistic Tory press, especially The Daily Mail.

The actual result of the referendum last year was narrow and ambiguous. Fifty-two percent of voters backed Brexit but we know that many of them did so because they were reassured by Boris Johnson’s promise that, when it came to Europe, Britain could “have its cake and eat it.” It could both leave the EU and continue to enjoy all the benefits of membership. Britons could still trade freely with the EU and would be free to live, work, and study in any EU country just as before. This is, of course, a childish fantasy, and it is unlikely that Johnson himself really believed a word of it. It was just part of the game, a smart line that might win a debate at the Oxford Union.

But what do you do when your crowd-pleasing applause lines have to become public policy? The twenty-seven remaining member states of the EU have to try to extract a rational outcome from an essentially irrational process. They have to ask the simple question: What do you Brits actually want?

June 14, 2017
[airbnb] Please Make Yourselves at Home in My Airbnb and Have Sex‘Just to be clear: I know that having sexual intercourse with your partner in a stranger’s home is an essential part of a romantic getaway in the sharing economy, and I want you to have a special weekend together in my house. I hope that by being upfront about that reality, I can make you feel as comfortable as possible about ravishing each other in my bed while I stay at my friend’s place a few blocks away.’
June 15, 2017
[tech] Google Can Now Tell You’re Not a Robot With Just One Click … a new, very simple Turing Test … ‘Instead of depending upon the traditional distorted word test, Google’s “reCaptcha” examines cues every user unwittingly provides: IP addresses and cookies provide evidence that the user is the same friendly human Google remembers from elsewhere on the Web. And Shet says even the tiny movements a user’s mouse makes as it hovers and approaches a checkbox can help reveal an automated bot. “All of this gives us a model of how a human behaves,” says Shet. “It’s a whole bag of cues that make this hard to spoof for a bot.” He adds that Google also will use other variables that it is keeping secret…’
June 16, 2017
[food] David Lynch cooks Quinoa‘Quinoa is something that I like to have for dinner every chance I get. Start with a pan. And this pan is unbelievable – it’s super heavy and lined with copper. It’s such a good pan. I’m going to go over now and fill this pan at the sink with some fresh water…’
June 19, 2017
[politics] The Trump Conspiracy, Explained

June 20, 2017
[comics] Kevin O’Neill on the early days of 2000AD‘My memory of 2000AD in those days is just white paint, paste-up, altering stuff, copying and enlarging stuff and getting as good a lettering job as we could get, because sometimes that covered deficiencies. It was totally like a Frankenstein operation at times. If we ran out of time, we’d get Jack Potter to letter it because he’d do a great lettering job, big display lettering and stuff. That elevated material a little bit. It was like trying to bodge a thing into submission, really. 2000 AD was still finding its feet, it was still sort of similar to Action minus something in some departments, but going off in other directions. It got up its own head of steam, eventually…’
June 21, 2017
[docu] Errol Morris on Interviewing Trump: ‘It’s Obvious: This Person Is Insane’… Errol Morris on his new film, true crime and Donald Trump … ‘I am utterly appalled by it all. I can’t even stand people trying to make sense out of it. There’s no point in trying. There’s a scene I’ve always loved in Dr. Strangelove, where General Turgidson (George C. Scott) is reading his letter from Brigadier General Ripper (Sterling Hayden) in the Pentagon war room, and Ripper is going on and on about precious bodily fluids. Peter Sellers’ president says “Give me that,” looks at the letter, and suddenly says, “It’s obvious: this person is insane!” Well, it’s obvious! It’s so obvious, it’s overt! I mean, every day you pick up the paper and it’s appalling.’
June 22, 2017
[web] Archillect (@archillect) – The Ocular Engine … go follow Archillect – a fascinating A.I. image curator on Twitter …

June 23, 2017
[web] The Most Interesting Curator on the Internet Knows Exactly What You Want to See … more on Archillect‘This ever-evolving process has taken both Archillect and Pak on some unexpected detours away from their original mission. As she’s evolved and adapted to her audience, her taste has diverged quite a lot from that of her creator. Early in the project, Pak steered her towards more high-brow visual art, but over the past few months has been allowing her more free rein. “It’s not reflecting my taste anymore,” Pak says. “I’d say 60 percent of the things [she posts] are not things that I would like and share, but it’s still fun to see that they are doing better than the things I would share.” There’s a tinge of annoyance to Pak’s voice when he says this last part, as if he knows that Archillect is better at running herself than he or any other human ever could be.’
June 26, 2017
[life] Power Causes Brain Damage … a look at why the powerful can lack empathy … ‘The historian Henry Adams was being metaphorical, not medical, when he described power as “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.” But that’s not far from where Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, ended up after years of lab and field experiments. Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.’
June 27, 2017
[consiracy] The Normalisation of Conspiracy Culture … another look at the how conspiracy theories have seeped into the mainstream … ‘When the facts are disputed, of course, you do the best you can with the evidence you can find. Josiah Thompson, the author of Six Seconds in Dallas: A Micro-Study of the Kennedy Assassination, has spent years thinking about all this. When I bring up the enormity of unknown unknowns in people’s understanding of history, Thompson quotes the writer Geoffrey O’Brien: “‘History unfolds as always in the midst of distraction, misunderstanding, and partially obscured sight-lines,’” Thompson says, reading a line from O’Brien’s 2016 review of the novel Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney.’
June 28, 2017
[life] Breaking News from the Onion… Mop Used to Clean Minor Spill Now Permanent Addition to Living Room
June 29, 2017
[wisdom] InspiroBot … A.I. generated inspirational quotes … ‘I am an artificial intelligence dedicated to generating unlimited amounts of unique inspirational quotes for endless enrichment of pointless human existence.’

June 30, 2017
[books] Schulz: The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature … funny list of some great moments in punctuation … ‘“Marley was dead: to begin with.” That is the opening line of A Christmas Carol, although it is less like an opening than like a train car immediately running into another train car. The sentence would be unremarkable if it read, “Marley was dead, to begin with.” The colon would be unremarkable if the sentence read “To begin with: Marley was dead.” But as written, this sentence is insane, or anyway destined to foment insanity in the grammatically prissy…’